The Author Comments: Outbound

When Steven Silver invited me to Windycon, he added that he wanted to celebrate the occasion with a collection of short fiction, with maybe a few essays. Outbound is the result.

It includes sixteen pieces of short fiction, including the novellas "The Big Downtown" and "In the Tower." There's an introduction by Barry Malzberg and comments by Michael Bishop. We've reprinted an interview conducted by Thomas Harbach for Phantastisch. And we added a list of twelve stories that worked especially well for me in the classroom to persuade reluctant seniors that reading can be fun.

One of the stories is "Lighthouse," co-written with Michael Shara, the astrophysics director at the American Museum of Natural History. It's the first Kristi Lang story. We've also included, for those interested in how stories get put together, the email conversations of the authors during the process. (A second story featuring the newly-minted young astrophysicist is upcoming in Analog.)

"The Big Downtown" is set in the Academy universe. And the action in "In the Dark" is set on Fishbowl, which showed up also in A Talent for War.

My first published story was "A Pound of Cure." It was SF, and it was printed in Four Quarters, the LaSalle literary magazine, in 1954. I was a freshman at the time. I wrote nothing else until 1980 when, frustrated with my job, I diverted myself with a story I called "Zip Code." It was a fantasy, and T.E.D. Klein shocked me by saying yes, and putting it in the December 1981 Twilight Zone Magazine.

My next story — and my first real science fiction sale, was "The Far Shore," which is included. Anyone reading this will not miss the sense of nostalgia for old time radio.

I've admitted elsewhere that I lack a sure hand for titles. "Melville on Iapetus" is a good example. But it eventually served as the inspiration for Priscilla Hutchins and The Engines of God.

By the way, I had a pretty good time at the con.

— Jack McDevitt
November 18, 2006


Updated by webspinner